Lessons from doctors and patients

Medical student Parthasarathy Sreemathy is about to graduate after five years in NTU, and one of the many things the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine undergrad looks back fondly on is her first year as a medical student.

“We spent one week each in a polyclinic and the hospital, shadowing patients and healthcare professionals. This ‘hospital week’ was meant to help us know what the healthcare profession is like as a whole and understand what patients have to go through,” she says.

“One of the things I had to experience was the insertion of a nasogastric tube through the nose and into the stomach. The discomfort of being on the receiving end of this helped me to develop empathy, something good doctors must have.”

Time has not diluted this concept for Sreemathy, who has spent the past two years of her education shuttling between her clinical postings in Tan Tock Seng Hospital and lessons at NTU’s Clinical Sciences Building, positioned centrally in the heart of HealthCity Novena right next to the hospital.

“The time spent interacting with patients taught me so much. Apart from having experienced doctors as our teachers, I’ve found myself learning from the patients themselves. We may not always know everything, and I am thankful that the patients have not dismissed us for that. Instead, they are willing to teach us when we examine them. It is heartening to know that they recognise us as future doctors and trust us enough to confide in us,” she says.

This interactivity continues in the classroom. Sreemathy enjoys the team-based learning pedagogy unique to Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine students.

“We don’t have to sit in lecture halls. Instead, we sit in groups and learn from one another and our individual iPads depending on the topic our professor assigns us. Then, our professor will listen to us present our findings and correct us where necessary. I really like this style of learning as it is so much easier to retain information.”

In 2019, she travelled to Imperial College London where she spent a week interacting with Imperial’s medical students and sitting in on their seminars and classes. She also shared her experience of performing physical examinations on patients to the first-year students there.